Search


Click here to Register User Services

Information

Products and Services


Historical Article

Attica, Athens - Theseus Slays the Minotaur



Theseus, son of Aigeus, the king of Athens, was known for a number of heroic feats on the model of Herakles. The most famous of these feats was his slaying of the Minotaur. Because the city was a tributary subject to Minos, the king of Crete, it was forced each year to send seven youths and seven maidens to the Cretan capital of Knossos to feed the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull who lived in the Labyrinth. To liberate Athens from this humiliating tribute, Theseus connived with his father to join the next shipment of youths. Once in Crete, he would slay the Minotaur, free his fellow victims, and return home. If successful, his returning ship would bear a white sail; if not, the sail would remain the black with which he left. With the help of Minos' daughter, Ariadne, who had developed a passion for him, Theseus entered the Labyrinth and slew the Minotaur. On his return voyage, however, Theseus forgot to replace the black sail, and Aigeus, seeing this, hurled himself in despair into the sea which now is called Aegean.

ATTICA, Athens. Circa 140/150-175 AD. Æ Drachm (5.74 g, 10h). Head of Athena right, wearing crested Corinthian helmet / ΑΘΗΝΑ−ΙΩΝ, Theseus, holding club in his right hand, left hand holding a horn of the Minotaur kneeling right, whom he is preparing to slay. Kroll 276; SNG Copenhagen 341; BMC 764.